Fifteen years ago, Saturday, my mother began painting a large oil portrait of me. That may sound unremarkable, since she was a painter and I am her daughter, but it was highly charged for two reasons: I was busy, healthy, and I hate to sit for portraits. She was weak, breathless, dying of breast cancer, and she had never been satisfied with any of the previous portraits she’d attempted of me.
…this is how you sweep a corner; this is how you sweep a whole house; this is how you sweep a yard; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like too much … Jamaica Kinkaid, “Girl” Will you be there? … Can you hear the truth? Tori Amos, “Promise” It’s been a lovely […]
Today is day 28 of Women’s History Month, and I’m beginning to panic. There are so many women on my heart and mind. I’m starting to think in categories, such as: Best Friends, Sisters, Aunts, Letter Writers, Diarists, Newly Discovered Relatives, Mothers and Daughters, Musicians, Asian Women, Latina Women. I only have three days left! […]
When celebrities like Angelina Joli, Joan Lunden and Hoda Kotb summon the courage to speak openly about their breast cancer, they offer an alternative to fear, hopelessness and isolation. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but for many, this awareness is year-round. My awesome artist-mother, Alice Steer Wilson, died of the disease in 2001. […]
When I saw this painting on Alice’s easel, I cried. She was going to die, and she knew it. That’s what I saw. My mother loved what she called “jumping off places” like this path across the dunes to the ocean. I couldn’t let the painting out of my life, so I bought it and […]
I am happy to participate in this writer’s round robin after being tagged by the lovely poet Lorraine Henrie Lins (thanks, Lorraine!). After I answer the questions, I’ll tag two additional wonderful writers. What is the working title of your book? The working title was The Alice Book or OK FOREVER: Alice Steer Wilson’s […]
Yesterday morning I made the final correction to the document that will become a book of my mother’s art life, with more than 200 images from her studio. What was the final change? The addition of the title “POEMS” on the copyright page . . . it’s interesting how many iterations it takes to get […]
OK, it’s not going to take me forever to do this book, but it is going to take longer than planned when I last posted on this blog. My mother’s journals were not blank, unlike those left to Terry Tempest Williams by her mother. The green post-its (above) mark passages to return to, share, possibly […]
Last night, Paul and I had dinner at Peking Gourmet, our favorite Chinese restaurant. We love the food, the kind and cheerful owner, Kim, and our regular server, Judy. At the end of the meal, we always read our fortunes — and they usually offer the standard hopeful predictions about money, friendship, and travel. But last night, we both received apt philosophical fortunes. Mine was: “Clear your mental, emotional and psychic space and you’ll see.” Paul received: “To live your life in fear of losing it is to lose the point of life.”
The watercolor, above, was created by my mother for the book we created together with her mother, The View in Winter. This book, published in 1992 and still available in print, includes Grandmother’s poems written in her eighties and nineties, mother’s lovely black and white watercolors, and one poem I wrote in honor of my grandmother. It was a project I didn’t think I had time (or resources) to do — yet, once I read the poems, I dropped all else and have never regretted it, never.
I am clearing, as I wish to see the way I saw when I worked on that project with my mother and grandmother. I am ready to reconnect with that vision and certainty, that focus.